By Jeff Wolfe
PREFACE: As it happens, I began writing this article a week prior to the explosive events in Charlottesville, North Carolina on August 11-12th. Since that time, White Supremacy and violent racism has plastered the news which makes the timing of this piece seem to be in response to that when in fact it turns out to have been unplanned synchronicity.
The sensational underground classic, Lords of Chaos, details the bloody rise of the Satanic metal underground that exploded in the late 1980’s and reached it’s peak point in the early 90’s. Centered in the Scandinavian north, Black Metal is still the most shocking and extreme extension of the heavy metal genre ever to scorch the ears and earth of this planet.
First released in 1998 and updated in 2003, Lords lays out the twisted and sordid tales of murder, church burnings and neo-fascism that arguably have more to do with the popularization of the scene than any of the music itself. Black Metal may have only become a footnote in the history of metal music, lumped in as an offshoot of American Death Metal had it not been for the extremes that band members and fans went to to prove their Satanic fronting was not merely a marketing ploy. The book illustrates without a doubt that Norwegian Black Metal was no game, but a matter of life and death, no matter how silly their promotional photos may seem.
Having recently flipped through the book, 10 years after my first reading of it, I stumbled upon a particular section that grabbed my attention. It’s a connection I had completely forgotten about, or it’s possible I paid no attention to it at all back then. The pages in question are found in a section from chapter 8, titled Unidentified Flying Aryans. I may as well have been reading the book for the first time, because I had no knowledge at all about any crossover between Norwegian Black Metal and the field of UFO research. On the other hand, when it comes to UFOs, no connection that comes up is that suppressing anymore.
My deep interest in heavy metal music and underground subcultures alone was what prompted me to pick up Chaos in the first place. That’s probably why the UFO stuff didn’t hit me very hard then. Back in the early 00’s I had little to no serious interest in the occult mythology or alien folklore. In a book filled to the brim with tantalizing and provocative murder and mayhem, I guess it’s no surprise that extraterrestrial life and ancient civilizations was among the lest memorable material. It just so happens that my interests finally caught up with the material that lay waiting for me to rediscover.
Unidentified Flying Aryans primarily lays out the story of Black Metals most notorious figurehead, Burzum frontman and convicted murderer, Varg Vikernes. After his involvement with several church arsons in Norway he went on to brutally murder his friend and bandmate, Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth with 23 stab wounds. He has sought to justify every crime he committed by claiming either self-defense or righteous vengeance. Not looking to keep a low profile since then, Vikernes has racked up more convictions for inciting racial hatred since his 2009 release from prison.
|Filth of the earth, Varg Vikrenes|
An early pioneer in the development of the trademark Black Metal sound, Vikernes was also early to ditch the trappings of passé Satanism for the more mature ‘blood and soil’ Hitlerism. This flip from one extreme to the next carries a certain kind of logic. An indefensible logic, but logical in the sense that disaffected and alienated assholes come to admire philosophies that provide a veneer of intellectual sophistication as cover for their reactionary tendencies.
This is not to say that all Satanists are racists or fascists by any means. But it must be admitted that the Anton LaVeyan brand of Satanism was enriched greatly by many aesthetic cues of fascist garb and militancy. It’s been said that the uniform and symbols of National Socialism and Satanism dovetail. It’s easy to see from that angle how someone who begins dabbling in Satanism and happens to also carry racial animosities eventually crosses over to revere the swastika. It’s an unfortunate association that non-racist Satanists have to deal with.
Danger and provocation have been at the heart of heavy metal music from day one. The danger and pushing boundaries is what makes the music so damn intoxicating. Symbolically speaking, there’s nothing more provocative than the swastika and the inverted pentagram. The sight of them induces a kind of unease and fear. Shock-value aside, there’s a key difference between breaking fashion taboos for attention and religiously studying Mein Kampf to build a personal philosophy. How far to court danger by associating and energizing these resonate symbols is up for debate. It does seem clear that when these threads are placed before an audience they are bound to be pulled. Is it a game really worth playing anymore? In the case of Vikernes, we have a demonstration of what can come up on the other side – and it ain’t pretty.
|From Norse to Nazi|
In the historical progression of Black Metal subculture it’s not just Satanism that got drug down into the veil bog of Nazism. Norse Mythology and neo-Paganism have become deeply meshed into neo-Nazi vocabulary and world building. The Nordic tradition has suffered greatly from its appropriation by the propagandists of Nazi Germany, effectively tarnishing the image of Heathenism and the ancient runes. Varg has used Nordic Heathenism as his spiritual literary defense for the white supremacism he espouses in his personal writings and those he has published with the Heathen Front organization. Attempting to elevate xenophobia from out of the gutter by way of association with philosophy, religion, visual and literary arts is a very old tactic.
“Odin says that the humans are useless, and sends Heimdall down to earth to improve them genetically so that they are worthy of entrance into Valhalla. And which bloodline is it that is worthy to enter Valhalla? Not the bloodline of Karl, who has red hair, and not the bloodline of Thrall, who has dark complexion. No, only Jarl’s bloodline (the ones with blonde hair) are taught the runes: the Knowledge. The other races are the failed experiments.” Varg Vikernes, – Lords of Chaos, pg. 182
None of this reasoning comes as a shock; Vikrnes falls into a lineage of broken logic that has become a cliché. The aspect that did surprise me was that Vikernes made a correlation between his racialist interpretation of the Poetic Eddas and modern extraterrestrial hypothesis. It’s not God who created the “genetically superior” aryan race according to Vikernes, but aliens from Sirius.
“According to Vikernes, the basis for his claims is clearly apparent in the Eddas (with assorted tidbits to back it up from the Vedas and other Into-European sources.) Vikernes quotes the “Rigsthula,” another section of the Elder Edda, to recall the time when the alien-gods walked among men.” – Lords of Chaos, pg. 182
According to Vikernes, once the the ancient alien gods discovered earth they used nukes deployed by robot controlled space craft to push our planet into the suns Goldilocks zone, creating a suitable climate for life. After the robots cultivated plant and animal life on earth, they set about creating aryan man who initially lived among a race of giants. Angry at the offense of the appearance of a superior race, the giants waged a war on Atlantis leading to its sinking and the surviving aryan bloodline fleeing into all parts of Europe where they would defile their purity with lesser races; leaving only northern whites as the last pure bloods the world over from that point onward.
Vikernes has taken popular UFO beliefs stemming from popular sources like Zecharia Sitchin, the Biblical Nefilim, Erich Von Däniken and Robert Temple, and placed his Norse ancestors at the top of the human chain allegedly engineered by the aliens. I’ve even come across the leveraging of Graham Hancock’s respectable work by fans of Vikernes to underpin this aryan shift in narrative. Once again, it is exceedingly discomforting to realize fascist extremists are reading the same sources as yourself, to no fault of the source.
While a racist form of ufology might come as an unwelcome shock to the system, most all researchers in the field are aware of and typically fascinated by the asserted connections between alien space craft and Nazi Germany dating back to WWII. The Nazi Bell craft (Die Glocke) along with doctored photos of Hitler shaking hands with an alien grey, legends of underground fortresses on Antartica and other speculations have long married ufology with Nazi space technology.
A quick search on “Nazi aliens” generates 774,000 hits on the topic. This interest and research is not often done in order to further or endorse Nazism but as a simple matter of historical curiosity and fact finding. For someone like Vikernes on the other hand, all of this writing and speculation serves to add further legs his sick aryan worldview.
Which is really the opening thought that prompted me to explore this topic at all. The uncomfortable ease in which one form of alternative belief system or lifestyle can serve as a bridge to another. To be more specific, how easily it may be for one fairly benign belief to led to a utterly toxic and destructive one. How often does someone starting with an innocent interest in alternative subjects get swept away into dangerous political ideology. There’s no way to calculate that sort of thing but makes for an interesting thought experiment. If you’re going to spend time looking into the occult or conspiracy literature, actively dismissing xenophobic rabbit holes is something you better be ready to do. Particular authors will lure the curious with “truthy”sounding bait, only to present doors to discrimination along racial or ethnic lines later.
While I have always been fascinated by the sociology and psychology of extremist groups, I have never for a moment been sympathetic to any rhetoric related to or even approximating racial hate. I’ve become very good at sniffing out that garbage daily quickly. Xenophobia, sexism and homophobia have been anathema to me for as long as I have known of their existence. But I can certainly understand why architects of neo-Nazi or fascist movements would target young people who have an interest in outsider topics like extreme metal, the paranormal or occultism. The underground music scene in particular has been a recruiting ground for radicalizing angry youth going at least as far back as the punk rock scene of the late 1970’s and early 80’s. While there was widespread resistance to the race cult coming from bands like the Dead Kennedys, they have and still do manage to brainwash the susceptible. Giving a false power and family to losers who feel lost and alone.
Ideas and subcultures pushed out into the margins of culture tend to coalesce under the banner of “fringe thought,” be it in the form of scientific, spiritual, historical or political categories. When you start to go down those vortexes of forbidden knowledge, you are soon confronted with all sorts of controversial reality tunnels. Some are just silly fantasies like Flat Earth or Blue Avian aliens; while others like anti-Jewish sentiment veiled within talk of the Illuminati NWO or the Globalist banker conspiracy can actually provoke and insight online and offline harassment and violence.
I believe that the number of Nazi sympathizers within the UFO and New Age community is rather small. This is my hope anyway. However, the historical connections are there and need to be looked at, whatever conclusion you may draw from them. One need look no further than Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical occultism to find the influential theory of “Root Races” that has been taken out of context or misinterpreted to influence later systems of racial hierarchy. Once the germ of an idea enters the lexicon, it spreads throughout subcultures and can be appropriated to serve different needs, regardless of the authors intent.
“A number of central tenets of National Socialism were influenced by earlier ariosophic occult groups, and related organizations such as the Thule Gesellschaft were instrumental in developing the NSDAP.” – Lords of Chaos, pg. 184
The occult and the far-right have quite a long history with affiliations not limited to neo-Paganism and the Nazi cults. Most notably, the works of the Italian fascist, Julius Evola, presented a mystical worldview across many publications that touted the glory of warfare, male chauvinism, caste societies and racial hierarchy. Evola took drugs, hiked mountains, painted, wrote about sex magic, Buddhism, Tantra and the Hermetics. These Crowley-esqe characteristics are counterbalanced with his deep involvement with both the Italian Fascists and the National Socialists, a personal friendship with Heinrich Himmler and his belief that violence provided a potent means for spiritual transcendence and transgression.
Evola’s biography alone sheds light on the fact the occult and esoteric are often politically neutral, attracting minds from across the spectrum. In that light, the UFO field is unsurprisingly no different. Politics are something usually laid over metaphysical systems by the individual coming to them. It works similarly in the way that Christians see world events through one lens and atheists see them through another.
My belief is that a person is best served coming into speculative studies with a preexisting value system. A basic value system, not necessarily a spiritual or political bias, in fact those sorts of things tend to lead to the precise troubles this essay deals with. What I mean to imply is that without a set of principles that contain at base, a respect for human beings of all walks of race, religion or sexual identification, the more vulnerable a person may be to exploitation by those whose agenda is to do just that. It comes down to how impressionable a person is or what stage of mental development they are in. If a person is quick to accept racially or religiously motivated conspiracy theories, you have to wonder if that person came preconditioned towards discrimination or if they were just a blank and credulous canvas waiting to be filled in.
We all bring our belief systems and prior experiences to the party. I would never argue everyone need to hold liberal values as a rule. When it comes to race, I see this issue as transcending the confines of liberal and conservative sympathies, as it ought to be grounded in a broadly universal instinct in seeing divinity in all beings placed here on this earth, despite those differences. If it were only that simple, many of our worldly troubles would easily vanish.
Among people who are willing to break with convention and socially accepted belief, the distance separating various fringe theories is not as far as we might like to think. Any occult bookstore will demonstrate that books on Wicca may be only a few shelves away from books on the Occult Roots of Nazism.
Chaos co-authors Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind along with their interview subjects raise some challenging notions about people who are likely to question accepted social narratives and how that open minded tendency can present an opening for extremists to seed their agenda into countercultures.
One such interview subject presented in the book is lecturer of religious anthropology at the University of Stockholm, Mattias Gardell. His assessment of the situation is as clear as it is disturbing when he states that, “I think that part of the reason why Aryan revolutionaries are so receptive to these theories is related to the fact that both UFO theologians and white National Socialist racists hold as valid knowledge what is rejected or ridiculed by mainstream society. A believer in one kind of stigmatized knowledge – the fact that it is not accepted as true by the universities and mainstream media is interpreted to mean that it must be something to it. This might – in part – explain why white racists tend to be open to all kinds of alternative medicine, ideas of lost worlds, parapsychology, alternative religions and alternative science, including UFO theology.”
For most reading this, that quote will cut a little too close to home. At some point in looking into alternative topics most of us have been lead astray by someone claiming to be “telling the real truth,” only to find out that their perspective of the truth is founded on antisemitic beliefs, religious fundamentalism or reactionary conservatism. The list of alt-media personalities peddling that smut is too long to list and just gives them more credibility in doing so. In my case, as I’ve said, when I sense the danger signs, I quickly cut off whatever the source of (dis)information and move on. Sadly, that can’t be said for everyone.
It is the case that there are more pliable people among us who can be easily manipulated and redirected against their previous ethics by a persuasive engineering of propaganda. It’s disturbing to see sources that were once politically unaffiliated one way or the other now overtly siding with a right-wing authoritarian agenda. You have to wonder if that was not a calculated plan to begin with.
I genuinely think most people start looking into UFOs, alternative spirituality and cases of conspiratorial corruption based on correct instincts that there’s a lot about this world that doesn’t add up and easy answers from our school textbooks don’t prove satisfying in addressing potentially deeper truths.
For followers of UFO content, one doesn’t need to look back more than a few weeks to see the tainting of racism in the field. MUFON very publicly refused to adequately condemn the racist statements made by Pennsylvania State Director John Ventre made on social media. After Ventre’s clear and unequivocally prejudiced statements came out, MUFON’s executive director Jan Harzan did little more than call into question the behavior of the hundreds of MUFON members challenging the “scientific” organization and demanding something be done to combat such internal racism.
In fact, don’t Harzan’s weak comments about the Ventre debacle sound eerily reminiscent of the kinds of excuses and false equivalencies made by Trump following the Unite the Right rallies? According to those with intimate and long standing contact with MUFON, Ventre was far from the only official representative to have made dubious political or racial comments. MUFON has the right to represent whatever ideas they want but as they’re finding out, the principle of free association is demonstrating that there is a social and financial cost and consequence when those ideas are corrosive to the integrity and moral compass of the vast majority of members.
Varg Vikernes came to UFO’s with a poisoned ideology and therefor applied that a tainted perspective of what the phenomena represents. It’s not too much of a surprise that the AAT, in dealing with genetic bloodlines is going to attract the attention of personalities who are obsessed with them. While there’s no reason to pay too much attention to the outrageous claims of the bad apples among the bunch, it’s also important not to turn a blind eye to them either.
No one has to censor another’s beliefs or statements in an attempt to combat their effect when they materialize (that just attempts to hide the problem). Firmly renouncing and isolating these individuals and their toxicity on the other hand demonstrates good faith unity for basic fundamental principles of human decency. What is the value of pursuing answers about extraterrestrial life if we can’t even come to appropriate answers about our own earthbound family?